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Three weeks after Ripplewood Holdings, L.L.C., announced the takeover of Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., the publisher’s associate general counsel, Andrea Newborn, announced a takeover all her own. Newborn, 44, was named GC of the Pleasantville, New York, company 16 years after moving in-house and just weeks after a blockbuster $2.6 billion acquisition that ended nearly two decades of public ownership for Reader’s Digest. The change could mean a new face for the 84-year-old company. And it certainly means a new set of responsibilities for Newborn, from management of a 12-attorney staff to participation on new CEO Mary Berner’s executive committee. (Newborn’s predecessor, Michael Brizel, left the publisher for Saks Incorporated.) Newborn, a New York native, was hired as a senior attorney by Reader’s Digest at just 28. “It was a year or two earlier than I wanted to [go in-house],” she says, “but you don’t turn that kind of opportunity down.” Since then she has paid her dues, rising through the ranks to assistant GC, and now to the top legal spot. “I loved it from the minute I started,” she says. “But the management piece is new to me.” Newborn has counseled most of the U.S. groups at Reader’s Digest, steered corporate transactions, and negotiated contract work. She’s overseen litigation on a nationwide class action suit alleging antitrust allegations against one of the company’s subsidiaries, which settled, and enforced noncompete agreements against former employees. Newborn was working as assistant GC in the late 1990s when Reader’s Digest switched some of its company-owned businesses in Italy and South Africa to licensed operations. She became familiar with international operations while deciding which assets to sell, which to license, and what standards to hold contractors to. Rethinking the business model in its entirety, she says, was the most exciting time of her in-house career to date. “When it’s your employees, you can change your strategy midstream,” she says. But “this was restructuring the way we conducted business in a whole country . . . [everything] had to be thought through very carefully.” Clearly, Newborn was equal to that challenge.

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